Bible Experiment I Corinthians

It’s been a bit since I hit Romans – but these posts are never far from my mind. Wait, what are they again? I can never ever remember what it is that you are doing with these crazy Bible post things. Just saying. Right, well… a couple years ago I began reading honest opinions from an Atheist wherein he’d read a book of the Bible and write at least one thousand words discussing what he’d read. I figured, heck, if an atheist can do it… so can I. I try to be incredibly honest on the give and take of the good and the bad in each book that I run across. And occasionally I find myself discussing anything and everything in the world along the way. It is what it is.

But this week – we are covering First Corinthians. As in, Corinth. The city of Corinth in Greece. Right? I happened to ride a train through the area on my way to Athens, but we didn’t stop.  Parthenon or bust baby.

Funny story. My daughter is studying Rome and the teacher was giggling about the ways that the Romans had devised to kill people. “Have you heard of cornering?” She asks me. And I immediately started laughing. “CORNERING no. Quartering, yes.” And instantly I was thinking of all the ways that a person could be cornered to death. Sorry. I digress. But she asked if there was anything in the Bible about Rome, seeing as though the time frame was similar. And I was like, other than the book of ROME-ANS? And it was like the world’s biggest light bulb going off. AHHHHH. But then I said, well, all of the Mediterranean was under Rome’s control, so even though Corinth, and Ephesis, and Galatia were Greek controlled previously, during this time they were Roman held territories. And pop, pop, pop, pop, light bulbs are going off for here one after the other. Galatians. Ephesians. Corinthians. Ah. All books of the New Testament.

History of First Corinthians

According to Acts 18:1-17, Paul founded the church in Corinth. He then went to Ephesus for three years (which is covered in Acts 19 and 20).  And it was during this time for Paul in Ephesus that Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians. Actually, it was during this time that he wrote two letters to the Corinthians. The first one has been lost to history. And the second one has become what we know today as 1 Corinthians. Which, shouldn’t be too surprising that we don’t have absolutely every letter Paul wrote to every church that he founded. But we also know that Second Corinthians is actually comprised of two different letters to the Corinthians. And they are out of order at that. 2 Corinthians 1-9 or 10 being the resolution of a conflict, and 10 – 13 being the conflict itself that needed resolution. (I literally could talk about this sort of arcane investigations for days. I love reading papers about letter fragments, intent investigations, and the reordering of the Bible in chronological order, etc. So I’ll just stop and say, 1 Corinthians is the first letter that was able to stand the test of time. There probably were at least one letter from Paul that proceeded our “first” Corinthians letter.

Content of First Corinthians

As I recently read through First Corinthians again I had this feeling like there was quite a bit of correction that needed to happy at the church in Corinth. I mean, straight out of the gate in chapter one, verse eleven we see that there were quarrels happening that Paul sought to stop. And his chief method for getting them to cut it out was to get them to consider their calling. Guys… guys guys… WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I am hearing that you are just bickering and infighting? What is that about? WHY ARE WE HERE? Don’t you all realize that we are in Christ Jesus, and that we should be joyful that God is in control of our lives? That he is the one orchestrating everything?

Which, for those of you who have stumbled onto this page, but don’t believe in God, I would argue that if we are standing here, watching Paul air that church’s dirty laundry, we can know that he is speaking truthfully and honestly. If you were just trying to support a falsehood, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to avoid letting others know of your imperfections and failures? And later on in chapters five through eleven we see that the bickering and quarreling was the least of their concerns. There were concerns about sexual immorality, lawsuits amongst believers, marriage problems, etc. But this should clearly show that Paul’s concern wasn’t in trying to hide our flaws, but rather to exhort others to walk closely with God.

But it isn’t until chapters fifteen and sixteen that we get to the single topic that is of the primary importance. Which was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And why would this be the single most important thing in Paul’s remarkable life?

“Now I make known to you the gospel which I preached, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved… “Which was that “Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day. And it is through his resurrection that we are saved.

Think about it for a moment. God gave Israel and the Jews a way to make penance for their sins by sacrificing animals. But they were to continually do this for the perpetual forgiveness of sins. Currently, as Paul is writing this letter it is somewhere around 57 AD. And in Jerusalem, there was still a temple to give sacrifices for one’s sins. But other Jews could not make sacrifices unless they were local to the temple. But 13 years later Jerusalem was sacked and the temple was destroyed. And this event is still mourned to this day annually as the Jewish fast Tisha B’Av. And why would this be a big deal to the Jewish people even today? Well, if your system of repentance comes from an altar that provides for that, and that altar has been destroyed?? Um, that makes it fairly difficult to have one’s sins atoned for.

So how does one go about doing an end around on this problem?

Well, for Paul, who had recently been a vehement and hardcore Jew, this was an unsolvable problem under the heel of Rome. But as a Christian that had been converted dramatically and dynamically, Paul didn’t have a problem at all. Christ came, as the perfect God Man… and died in Paul’s place so that Paul’s sins might be taken care of once and for all. And you two… it doesn’t matter if you were a Jew or not. By availing yourself of God’s great goodness to you, you too can be saved from the guilt and chaos of sin.

Which is the first and foremost thing on Paul’s mind. Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected. Which is what we just celebrated a couple of days ago with Easter. And it is my opinion that while Christmas is important, it is way way less important than Easter. God coming to earth is good. But God providing a way for the payment of my sin??!? Way way more important than his arrival.

First Corinthians is a good book. It’s interesting to read about the struggles and the problems of the early church. But it’s the most interesting to read about Paul’s passion and fire for Christ’s message of salvation to all people.

 

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